Kyle Lafferty credits unwavering support from Hearts since admitting to gambling addiction
Last Updated: 18/04/18 10:47pm
Kyle Lafferty has credited the unwavering support from his wife and Hearts since the striker admitted to a gambling addiction.
The Northern Ireland international opened up to his battle, which cost him thousands of pounds, last September after he moved to Tynecastle last summer on a free transfer from Norwich City.
In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports he talks about his ongoing recovery from the personal issues.
When asked whether the help over his gambling problem had 'saved' him, he said: "Definitely. The help of the club and my wife along the way has been a massive support for me.
"They just want what is best for me and to go eight months without gambling, especially with the place I was in, [means] I am in a good place."
Lafferty, who is three goals off breaking a 26-year scoring record held by Hearts legend John Robertson, paid particular praise to Hearts assistant coach Austin MacPhee.
"Obviously, coming out about my gambling addiction is something I could have, should have done five, six, seven years ago. In the end I didn't want to stop"
"Obviously, coming out about my gambling addiction is something I could have, should have done five, six, seven years ago. In the end I didn't want to stop," Lafferty told Sky Sports News.
"I didn't want to admit that I had that problem. Since I have been at Hearts, Austin has been brilliant for me.
"He has been there for me every step of the way. Even three, four months down the line he is texting me to say if I am doing ok or if I am still off it [gambling].
"To be fair to have someone there [has been important]. He has been like a father figure. I am obviously happy I have come out and he has been there to support me."
The 30-year-old reveals he has not betted since he 'came out' - something he describes as a "massive milestone" - despite accepting he has been tempted.
"The longest I was off it before I came out in September was about six or seven weeks but I didn't have that feeling that I wanted to stop," he said.
"Since September 11th, I think, I haven't gambled since. It is a massive milestone for me.
"There are days where I have that urge but I have got an amazing wife and at home and an amazing family that supports me the whole way. That is an added bonus."
Lafferty is set to play against former club Rangers at Ibrox, live on Sky Sports Football, on Saturday and says he would be delighted to finish his career at the Edinburgh club.
"I am expecting my first child with Vanessa [his wife] so everything is kind of gelling together now," Lafferty said.
"It's all good and hopefully I am a Hearts player for the rest of my career. If that happens I am a very happy man."